The first memory of the beloved story of Pinocchio most people most likely would have would be the 1940s Disney version of the story. Let’s put this bluntly. The Disney version is a rather tame telling of a boy made out of wood who wants to become a real boy and has to become a ‘good’ person essentially. There have been several retellings of this story. However, Guillermo Del Toro’s version may be one of the most haunting and beautifully animated versions to date.
This retelling is co-directed by Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson. It is also co-written by del Toro, Patrick McHale, and Matthew Robbins. And it takes some creative liberties that doesn’t entirely work for it. They tell a dark intense story that has a few too many tonal shifts. But it more than makes up for it in the animation and stop motion, making it for an absolutely beautiful looking film.
The film focuses on our titular character of Pinocchio voiced by Gregory Mann who was created by Geppetto voiced by David Bradley, after a bomb killed Geppetto’s actual son. In a drunken rage he creates Pinocchio out of wood and wants to have his son back. And the Wood Spirite, voiced by Tilda Swinton, brings life to Pinocchio but curses him with the inability to die. However, she also plagues Sebastian J Cricket voiced by Ewan McGregor. That ‘plague’ is giving Sebastian the task of ensuring that Pinocchio develops the virtues of a subjectively good person. And if he does, she will grant Sebastian any one wish he desires.
The backdrop of the movie happens to be taking place over World War 2 and that makes everything in Pinocchio that much darker and more disturbing as well. This disturbing element includes the inclusion of Dottore, voiced by John Tuturro, and his son, Candlewick, voiced by Finn Wolfhard. Both are in support of Germany and specifically, Mussolini. And they want Pinocchio to join the Italian armed forces as he cannot die and train him to become the ultimate soldier.
Pinocchio has different dreams and aspirations for himself, after a fight with his father. This is where he meets Count Volpe voiced by Christoph Waltz and his pet Spazzatura voiced by Cate Blanchett. Count Volpe runs a circus, and since Pinocchio is a living puppet, he is the ultimate attraction for his circus.
What works incredibly well for Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is the voice acting as everyone brings something unique to the role. The only main issue is that Gregory Mann who plays Pinocchio, at times can be incredibly off putting and rather shrill. The supporting cast includes David Bradley, Finn Wolfhard, Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton, Christoph Waltz, and John Tuturro. And they all bring their signature voices to these characters that bring them to life. Everyone brings an element of wonder to their voice whether that be something to invoke fear, wonder, or intrigue.
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio boasts a star-studded cast that helps bring forth this reimagination of a classic story to life. It also has some marvelous direction that on occasion loses itself in the overly dark story telling. However the masterful stop motion animation will leave audiences captured and captivated throughout any gaps in storytelling. There is so much to be in complete awe of visually, and the voice acting is spectacular. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio while transport you to a world of complete spectacle.
- Rated: PG
- Genre: Animation, Drama, Family, Fanrtasy, Musical
- Release Date: 11/11/2022
- Directed by: Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson
- Starring: Burn Gorman, Cate Blanchett, Christoph Waltz, David Bradley, Ewan McGregor, Finn Wolfhard, Gregory Mann, John Turturro, Ron Perlman, Tilda Swinton, Tim Blake Nelson
- Produced by: Alexander Bulkley, Corey Campodonico, Gary Ungar, Guillermo del Toro, Lisa Henson
- Written by: Carlo Collodi, Guillermo del Toro, Matthew Robbins, Patrick McHale
- Studio: Double Dare You (DDY), Necropia Entertainment, Netflix, Netflix Animation, Pathé, ShadowMachine, The Jim Henson Company